Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Purple Reign

A collection of hand painted Victorian fans….

Vintage hat boxes...

Victorian straw and velvet hat by Aitken Son & Company, New York.

Purple velvet Victorian era hat with velvet roses.

Victorian straw bonnet with hand painted pansies.

Victorian hat that belonged to my great grandmother.

Hat belonging to my great grandmother.

 Someone in my family loved purple. On my recent trip to Lincoln, Massachusetts my grandmother bestowed upon me the lovely remains of one of our most stylish ancestors. These items belonged to my grandmother's grandmother and came to her via a wealthy cousin in New York City. This rich and glamorous cousin would routinely send her hand-me-downs up north to Exeter, NH where my great great grandmother lived. So lately I have taken to fantasizing that maybe in a past life I was that rich cousin in New York and that these were once mine. Ha! It's fun to think about... Could this past life persona be the force driving my obsession with vintage clothing?

I've done a little research on the lavender ensemble and have determined it to be from sometime between 1875-1885. The outfit was meant to be worn with a bustle (which my grandmother gave me when I was too young to take care of it and now I'm not sure where it is…). The suit is primarily made out of soft lavender wool gabardine and deep plum duchess silk satin. The bodice is boned and the interior is meticulously lined in silk and is hand stitched. Beautiful lace is asymmetrically draped throughout. The waist band bears the mark of the dress maker Mme. Marie Schmidt Robes and the address No 54 West 35th St. New York.  I'm not sure if the purple hats were meant to go with it or not- they most certainly look like they do. I love the hand painted pansies on the straw bonnet. The fans are beautiful too- hand painted ladies and cupids...

It brings me great joy to get to share them with you. I would love to hear what you think of them or if you have any knowledge of the dress maker in New York- I couldn't find any information on her and would love to know more.

Strangely enough, while I was unpacking all the violet hued family heirlooms (that aren't for sale…) some beautiful lavender tinged dresses came into the store that are for sale!

1950's prom dress with violet bouquet, waist 24".

1950's lilac scalloped lace, sold.

1940's silky rayon butterfly print gown, waist 27".

Even purple shoes!

Thanks for looking!


  1. Amazing collection...thank you so much for sharing your amazing pieces and touching story! I am sure you have relatives smiling down on you from above proud of your great taste and appreciation for the past...

  2. What a great dress to have in your collection! Thanks for sharing.

  3. wow! what an amazing treasure, and to think that it comes from your own matrilineage!! gosh, speechless. <3

    1. Thank you:) I was speechless when I first saw it!